Continuing his argument, the apostle showed under the marital figure that a change of covenant changes the center of responsibility.
Then we have one of the great personal and experimental passages of the Pauline writings. The pronouns change from the plural to the singular. The whole of the seventh chapter gives us a picture of the religious experience of Paul up to the time of his meeting with Christ. It deals with his condition before the law, his experience at the coming of the law, and his subsequent experience under the law. He made two statements: "I was alive apart from the law once"; "The commandment came . . . and I died." When was the apostle alive apart from the law, and when did the commandment come, so that he died? When he spoke of having been alive apart from law, he referred to those days of his infancy and childhood in which without consciousness of law there was no consciousness of sin and he was living the life that was without any sense of distance between himself and God. "The commandment came, sin revived, I died." The apostle carefully declared what particular commandment it was that brought home to him this sense of sin. "Thou shalt not covet." In that he discovered that he was violating the divine commandment, and so he died.
The experience next described is of a man seeking the highest. Here is a double experience in the life of one man, doing hated things, and by his very hatred of them consenting to the goodness of the law which forbids them. Terrible indeed is the condition, so terrible that he broke out in that cry that tells the whole story of his inner consciousness. "Wretched man that I Amos 1:1-15 who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?" While thus the apostle wrote the words which reveal the agony of his past condition, he wrote them from his present sense of victory and deliverance, and so parenthetically answered his question, in the words, "I thank God through Christ Jesus our Lord."
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34